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Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E40: Eyes on the Streets with Damien Newton

Damien NewtonColin Marshall sits down in Mar Vista with Streetsblog Los Angeles founder Damien Newton (and his young daughter). They discuss what Los Angeles transportation culture looked like from a distance before he came here (nonexistent); how he found himself covering the city’s “turning point”; the advantages to getting around from just where chose to make his home, and the disadvantages that include having to take “the bus to the bus to the train to the train to the train” to Pasadena; the Expo Line’s approach to his neighborhood, and what it has made him think about the ways communities can take advantage of new transit; Santa Monica as “basically paradise” (despite the rumors floating around there of  coming “soul-crushing traffic”); the relative prevalence of “kind-of car-freeness” in Los Angeles, and what makes the difference between it and other cities allowing absolute car-freeness; the city’s early attempt at a bicycle network, like the time it put down “twenty miles of weird sharrows” over a weekend; the benefits of stoking a pretend infrastructure rivalry between Santa Monica and Long Beach; why Los Angeles simultaneously produces complaints about “being forced to drive” and “being forced out of our cars”; the importance to no longer building based on the effects on cars, but the effects on actual people; the generational change that has led some commentators to label young people unmotivated for their lack of driver’s licenses; what has made bikes so much cooler today; Los Angeles’ first Ciclavia, the initial dread that nobody would show up to it, and the instantaneous dispersal of that dread; the questions of how many times you can just report “This is awesome!” about an event like Ciclavia, and whether its future routes can “give South Los Angeles its due”; the difficulty of every firmly saying “this is Los Angeles,” and the non-existence of most Los Angeleses seen in popular culture up to now; and the availability of something culturally new to learn every day in the city, even just on its surface.

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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